Customers Rock!

A blog about customers, their experiences, and how businesses can make sure their customer experiences rock!

Archive for the ‘Gaming’ Category

Bungie Rocks! Fixing (someone else’s) Customer Service Error

Posted by Becky Carroll on March 12, 2008

nathaniels-xbox-360.jpg When a person sends in a device to customer service for a repair, there is a certain amount of trust that is given by the customer. They trust it will be fixed.  They trust it will come back in one piece.  And in the case of a loyal Halo video game fanatic, he trusted it would be returned to him will all his memorabilia still intact! (Hat tip to bs angel at Hawty McBloggy , who gets full credit for the info on the story details and these images.)

The Problem

Nathaniel is a fan of the Halo video game franchise created by Bungie.  When he purchased his XBox 360 (pre-ordered it!), he started taking it with him to get autographs from the folks involved with creating his favorite game.  He had accumulated quite a few autographs from the gaming studio and the XBox 360 team, in addition to some artwork from notable gaming artists, which were written in black permanent ink directly onto his gaming console (see photo at top for a view of some of the goodies he had on there).  Notice I keep using the word “had”.  Nathaniel’s beloved XBox 360 console stopped working, and although he debated about it, Nathaniel sent it in to Microsoft to have it repaired. 

To ensure his valuable console would be returned unscathed, he called customer support at Microsoft to see if they could promise to protect this decorated casing.  They said they wouldn’t harm it and would return it the same way it came to them.  Not convinced, Nathaniel also included a letter with his XBox 360 when he sent it in asking that the technicians be careful not to smudge the artwork.  He additionally requested that if the inside of the console needed to be replaced, would they please be so kind as to return his original case with new innards.

Crushed! 

Well, Nathaniel did get back his original case (the serial numbers match his original one), but it was wiped completely clean.  No autographs.  No cool artwork.  Only a few hints of permanent marker remained where previously there had been treasured memorabilia.  To read the full story, you can go over to Hawty McBloggy, who documented the letter that Nathaniel sent and the results in this first post on the subject.

Now hang in there with me, Customers Rock! readers, because even though this story took a negative turn, the ending totally rocks!

Nathaniel was crushed, as you can imagine.  The Hawty McBloggy blog decided to help him share his story with the gaming community to make sure none of them got stuck like he did.   At the time, all of Nathaniel’s questions to Microsoft were going unanswered.  The gaming community, however, rallied around Nathaniel – there are over 700 comments to bs angel’s original story on this!

Heroes to the Rescue

halo-helmet.jpg Bungie Studios, the creators of Halo (and their most recent version, Halo 3), also heard about what happened.  Even though they weren’t remotely responsible for this error made in console tech support, they wanted to do something about it to help make it right.  Only a few days later, a huge box arrived on Nathaniel’s doorstep – absolutely stuffed with cool Bungie “swag”.   Bungie is well known by the gaming community for treating their fans like royalty, but this one must be a record, even for them!  Here is a list of what he received (documented by bs angel):

Included in the Halo swag bag were :

  • Legendary Edition Helmet signed by most–if not all–of the studio staff (see photo)
  • Halo 3 Soundtrack (two disc) signed by Marty O’Donnel (with “DO NOT ERASE!” written under his name)
  • Bungie Jacket
  • Bungie T-Shirt
  • Halo 3 Messenger Bag
  • Two Halo 3 Limited Edition Wireless Controllers (one covenant, one human)
  • Halo 3 Faceplate and Skins for Xbox 360
  • Four McFarlane Action Figures (MC, EVA Spartan, Brute Chieftan, Jackal Sniper)
  • Halo Actionclix Preview pack (Target exclusive sticker on the front)
  • Halo Actionclix Game Pack 4
  • Halo 3 Wall Graffix
  • Halo 3: Ghosts of Onyx Novel
  • Halo Graphic Novel
  • Halo 3 Wristband
  • Halo 3 Hackeysack

Nathaniel was overwhelmed by their generosity and the support of the whole gaming community.  Here is his reaction:

“And finally, to the staff of Bungie Studios: I cannot thank you enough for the outpouring of support that you have lavished upon me in the aftermath of the release of my story. Long have I known of your dedication to your fans and community, but I find this single act of kindness mind boggling. Apart from the fact that a few of you had signatures adorning my console, you had no involvement in what occurred. As such, you have far surpassed any response I could have anticipated. I don’t think I could ever repay you for this.”

This unexpected response from Bungie totally rocks!

The Community’s Response

Yes, Bungie Studios now has a fan for life in Nathaniel, and in his friends I’m sure, as he will be spreading the word far and wide.  bs angel’s blog has also helped to spread the word – both the sad saga as well as the happy ending.  There are over 200 comments to the second post detailing the “swag” sent by Bungie, and most of them are Bungie fans saying how cool the company is for doing this!  Here are some sample (verbatim) comments:

  • bungie rocks. i’ve never seen a company so in touch with their fan-base before.
  • Just more confirmation why we all love Bungie so much.
  • It would be a massive boon to society as a whole, if somehow most of the corporate world would follow Bungie’s lead. They seem to always give back that huge amount of extra.
  • Good Job Bungie.
    Handled like a company that appreciates its customers.
  • Class all the way.
    It’s little gestures like this that make a good business truly great.
  • More companies need to do more things like this. The world is losing sight that back in the day “mom and pop” shops would do things like this all the time.

And these comments, folks, are only a few from this gaming community.  Bungie just created a huge list of raving fans by how they responded to this incident. 

How did Bungie do it?

- They were listening to their customers, using social media.

- They had previously built up a strong community (see their website for forums, insider information, and an open and honest attitude including Bungie podcasts, photos, and webcams!)

- They decided to “do the right thing”, even though they were not the ones in the wrong (the console manufacturer made the error, not the video game studio)

- Bungie has prioritized customers as a critical success factor for their business – and has acted on it.

Clearly, Customers Rock! for Bungie Studios.  Way to go, Bungie!

Posted in Community, Customer loyalty, Customer service, Customers Rock!, Gaming, social media | Tagged: , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Nintendo and the Sensory Experience

Posted by Becky Carroll on March 30, 2007

gamer.jpgI have blogged before about engaging your customer’s senses when I posted on Westin Hotels and their White Tea scent.   Westin Hotels uses this signature scent to evoke certain emotions when customers visit their chain.  Our senses are closely connected to our emotions.  They are also closely connected to how we learn.  People are typically visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners– those who learn best by moving their bodies.  (I am a visual learner, which is why I like blogs so much!  To find out what kind of learner you are, try this free online assessment from researchers at North Carolina State University.)

Nintendo has taken this to new heights.  Of course, the Wii gets everyone moving!  Today, I am talking about the Nintendo DS.  Recently, I watched my son play Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo DS.  The DS naturally lends itself to a more kinesthetic experience than its predecessor Gameboy, as the DS has a touch-screen and stylus.  (Note to you closet gamers: because of the way the DS opens up, it looks like a PDA, so bringing one to a meeting might not be noticed — unless your boss has one!)

The stylus enables the player to move things around on the screen more easily than using buttons to control play.  It also allows very cool applications.  For example, one mini-game in Mario had my son pulling back a sling-shot (with the stylus) to lob water balloons at little guys dropping from the sky.  I recently bought EA’s Pogo Jungle game, and I was able to use the stylus to manipulate cannons to shoot down balls in Phlinx (a very fun puzzle game).

Even more interesting to me is the microphone on the DS.   It is used for spoken commands in some games, but what really intrigued me was how it is used in Mario.  My son had to blow into the microphone in order to blow up a balloon.  In other words, this gaming experience uses three of his five senses; the only senses not used are scent and taste (but that could be coming in a future version?!).

How can we appeal to our customers’ senses with our marketing?  Much of marketing appeals only to visual and auditory learners.  How can you reach out to those who need to experience something in order to learn about it?  I attended a great panel discussion yesterday on ambient marketing through the San Diego chapter of the AMA.  Although I will post more on this event later, the best examples shared were those where customers and prospects could interact with the marketing.

As you work to understand your customers better, try a learning style communication for existing customers.  Get to know the preferred style of your best customers, then deliver in that style (ex: blog vs podcast vs direct mail).  If you don’t know, ask them what type of information speaks clearly to them.  Depending on your business, you might also involve the other two senses to round out the experience!

(Blog tip to Getting Attention for the link to the online learning style assessment!  Photo uploaded by MViennet)

Posted in Customer experience, Gaming, Marketing | 1 Comment »

Nintendo Has the Last Laugh

Posted by Becky Carroll on February 26, 2007

video-game-kid.JPGBack in December, I discussed the battle for the gaming console customer.  I felt that Sony had not been paying attention to their very large installed base, and Microsoft had done some reaching out to existing customers.  These two new consoles were mostly focused on awesome new graphics capabilities.

Along came Nintendo.  My December post had links to interviews with Nintendo execs who discussed how they took a fresh approach based on customer needs.  They kept in mind that the number one reason any gamer wants to play is fun.  If it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth the time. 

Doug Meacham does a great job of challenging retailers in his recent post, saying that retailers were counting on a better showing from Sony.  He gives four early indicators for retailers that they could have used to see this “revolution” coming.  I especially like his fourth indicator:

Nintendo’s disruptive shift that focuses on the experience of the gamer

I think this was the biggest indicator that Nintendo would be the clear winner.  Nintendo’s decision to approach the business from the players perspective and make a product that truly engages the player (at half the cost of a PS3) was disruptive. 

I couldn’t agree more, Doug.

Now, Nintendo has the last laugh. 

See this cool animation from my new blogging friend and animator Will Reinhardt at Calico Monkey; it says it all!  Click on the icon at left to go to the page, then press play to see Crazy Wii.  Or, see it here.

Posted in Customer experience, Gaming | 6 Comments »

Loyalty, innovation, and the gaming console war

Posted by Becky Carroll on December 16, 2006

video-game-kid.JPGThe video game console wars are in full swing.  The winner will be determined not just by new customers but in many cases by the loyal, installed base of gamers.  The three companies, Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are pulling out all the stops to try and come out on top.  Some of their tactics are working, others are not.  The console that wins may be the one that has the best “Customers Rock!” attitude.

 Microsoft’s Xbox360 has been out since Christmas 2005 and has a great head start, as they have already been through the long lines to get the Xbox360 and the inflated eBay prices.  The Xbox360 appeals to the “hard core” gamer with its  incredible graphics and wide array of intense, action-packed games.  Microsoft is also reaching out to its existing customers through an ever-growing list of over 300 Xbox games that are backwards-compatible with the Xbox 360. 

Sony’s PS3 came out in November this year, as did Nintendo’s Wii.  Sony has a very large installed base of loyal PS2 customers but has done very little to engage them in the excitement over the new PS3, which has great new graphics as well.  Sony instead has seen a lot of backlash in the last few days for its failed WOM campaign for the PSP, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com (currently cached version can be seen here), which Sony admits was “poorly executed.” (Thanks to NextGeneration News for this story.)  What would be happening with the PS3 if Sony were working with its existing customer zealots?  Sony would have a leg-up on its competitors.

In the United States so far, Nintendo’s sales are outpacing Sony’s.   Is this due to Nintendo’s large installed base?  Possibly, but of greater importance is that Nintendo has been listening to its customers.  Console aside, when gamers are asked what their reasons are for playing video games, one of the top reasons is always “fun”.  Should this really be a surprise?  When Nintendo created the Wii, this is what it kept in mind, keeping video games fun.  Many of the video games made for hard-core gamers can require a steep learning curve, which keeps away the “average” gamer.   Nintendo designed the Wii to be a fun, innovative family console that even Mom would love.  Nintendo has done a series of interviews internally with its own design team which showcase their thinking in the Wii’s development.  Most of Nintendo’s focus has been on improving the customer experience for the gamer, rather than just making it better, faster, and flashier.  Nintendo has seen its share of problems with the new Wii as the game controller strap breakage has caused unintended consequences an early recall.  This will all be water under the bridge soon.

Who will win the console wars?  My prediction is that the Wii will come out ahead of the PS3 with its unique, fun gaming experience that seems to be broadening the market for video games.  How Xbox will fare will depend on how closely it stays linked to its customer base.  The results of the final analysis will have little to do with “faster and flashier” and everything to do with how loyal customers are treated – and whether they are having fun.

Posted in Customer experience, Customer loyalty, Gaming | 6 Comments »

 
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